Swelling but very little pain at the costosternal joint

by Victoria

Swelling but very little pain at the costosternal joint still need to be assessed, like any other condition, if it continues for any length of time.

About 9 months ago I noticed twinges I was getting in my chest around the right rib area (maybe the third rib) on my right side. The pain would come and go and would be very mild for 5-20 seconds about twice a week.

Then I started to notice the pain more often, to the point where it got to be every day and I noticed swelling in my rib area on my right side, by where the rib meets the joint. I wasn't sure what was causing it but thought it may be from picking up and holding on my hip my 20lb toddler on my left hip was somehow causing pain in my right chest/rib.

I stopped picking him up and about 6-8 weeks later the pain got less and less frequent but the swelling stayed. It got to the point where I was having no pain at all. Just the swelling was there. If I pushed on the joint area it was tender.

Last weekend I picked up my toddler a few times and noticed the area hurt again the next day. The pain was and always has been very mild. I would say 1 or 2 on a pain scale.

I have felt the pain on and off this week, the swelling is there and extends to my rib area too, past the joint and up toward my armpit, about two inches in length. I assume it is swelling but I don't know.

I feel the swelling more if my arm is raised.

I haven't taken anything for this and wasn't sure if I should just wait it out.

Thank you!

Good morning Victoria, and thank you for your letter.

It certainly sounds like you have a mild dose of Tietze's syndrome; simply because you've had this for several months, I would recommend you have the whole area examined.

Because it's in the area around your breast and extending towards the armpit, I'd recommend you start with a consultation with your medical doctor, just to be sure there's nothing else going on.

Research shows anti inflammatory tablets won't help the chest pain, so don't accept any.

Then any ongoing joint pain needs to be evaluated by your chiropractor; the difficulty is that this is a nuggety chronic condition that can be very severe, and many of my colleagues have probably never heard of it. I hadn't until I'd been in practice for some 25 years.

And, please note this, a heavy chiropractic manipulation in the middle of the back will worsen it. So you need to find the right person, and talk very forthrightly about it; until I understood the condition, I aggravated numerous cases, and you don't want to be a victim! It's called iatrogenic disease, the third most common condition; doctor-caused illness.

Don't by put off by these comments, but it does mean you have to find a chiropractor knowledgeable about Tietze's syndrome and will treat you more gently; the 'anterior thoracic' adjustment is the treatment of choice. Ask before making an appointment. If you read the other letters on the subject you'll soon realise it can become very severe; rather nip it in the bud.

Alternating ice and heat, as in the shower, and gentle massage of the area helps too. If carrying your child on the hip seems to be an aggravating factor, then certainly avoid it where possible.

Good luck, and I hope this contributes. Fire away if you have any more questions.

Read 'find a good DC' in the navigation bar at chiropractic help.

Dr B

» Swelling but very little pain at the costosternal joint

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